Evolutionary War

Release Date: 
August 1988 to November 1988
Plot / Theme: 

The High Evolutionary is a defeated man. His ambitious experiments have failed, his sense of importance has been staggered by the enormous power of the Beyonders, and his will to live has been crushed. However, the thought of leaving mankind without a genetic caretaker is unthinkable, so he resolves to propel humanity to the position he believes it deserves: supreme ruler of the universe. His plan, however, faces a surprising amount of opposition from the heroes of the world.

This crossover, which actually tells two stories, not only illustrates the gradual transformation of geneticist Herbert Edgar Wyndham into the High Evolutionary, but in its primary story, depicts the execution of his ambitious, multi-faceted plan for mankind’s genetic advancement.

Characters Involved
  • The High Evolutionary
  • Foks, Purge, Quint, Stack, (high-ranking Purifiers)
  • Exterminators
  • Gatherers
  • Intuition, Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste, Touch (the Sensors)
  • Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (X-Factor)
  • Cannonball, Magik, Magma, Mirage, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane (current and former New Mutants)
  • Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Longshot, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (X-Men)
  • Daredevil, Man-Thing, Poison, Punisher, Quicksilver, Silver Surfer, Speedball, Spider-Man (various superheroes)
  • Black Goliath, Black Panther, Hawkeye, Mantis, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Vision, Wonder-Man (West Coast Avengers and allies)
  • Captain, Falcon, Hercules, Hulk, Jocasta, Yellowjacket II (reserve Avengers)
  • Crystal, Human Torch, Ms. Marvel/Sharon Ventura, Thing (Fantastic Four)
  • Black Bolt, Lockjaw, Luna, Medusa (Inhumans)
  • Ikaris, Karkas, Makarri, Sersi, Thena (Eternals)
  • Bright Sword, Caduceus, Calculus, Daydreamer, Genii, Harvest, Highnote, Mindsinger, Moonstalker, Sea Witch, Splice, Varua (Young Gods)
  • Gateway, Madelyne Pryor (X-Men allies)
  • C’Jime, Garokk, Ka-Zar, Shanna, M’Rin, Nereel, Zaladane (Savage Land residents)
  • Val-or (evolved Moloid)
  • Apocalypse, Caliban
  • Doctor Druid, Artie Maddicks, Franklin Richards, Phoenix II (psi-sensitives)
  • Emma Frost, Magneto, Selene (Hellfire Club)
  • Empath (Hellion)
  • Senator Aquilla (Magma’s father)
  • Bulk, Glow Worm (radioactive mutants)
  • El Caiman, Lucinda (Colombian cocaine family)
  • The Super-Skrull
  • Gwen Stacy/Joyce Delaney, J. Jonah Jameson, Mary-Jane Watson-Parker, Willie Lumpkin
  • Kingpin, Slug, Splitterface Flanagan (antagonists of Spider-Man)
  • Lord Attuma, Lord Kro (Atlantean and Lemurian rulers)
  • Uatu the Watcher

    Characters involved in the High Evolutionary’s origin:(in order of appearance)

  • Herbert Edgar Wyndham/The High Evolutionary
  • Mrs. Wyndham
  • Jonathan Drew
  • Wladyslav Shinsky
  • Mysterious man (possibly Phaeder or Mr. Sinister)
  • Professor Reardon
  • Merriem Drew, Jessica Drew (Jonathan’s family)
  • Baron Gregor Russoff
  • Moloids
  • Philip Masters
  • Bova (New-Men)
  • The Knights of Wundagore
  • Magnus
  • Chthon
  • Magda
  • Sir Gote (New-Men)
  • Pietro and Wanda Maximoff
  • Porga (New-Men)
  • Robert Frank/The Whizzer, Madelyne Joyce-Frank/Miss America
  • Django and Marya Maximoff
  • Thor, Jane Foster
  • Hulk
  • Man-Beast
  • Adam Warlock
  • Galactus
  • Her
  • Alicia Masters, Moondragon, Aleta Starhawk, Thing
  • Captain Sphinyor
  • The Beyonders
Issues Involved: 

The first crossover of its kind, The Evolutionary War ran through all the annuals Marvel published in 1988. Each annual featured a main story chronicling one of the High Evolutionary’s schemes to propel humanity’s genetic standing. Additionally, each annual featured a short backup story depicting the origin of the High Evolutionary, specifically what led him embark on his noble, if misguided, quest for mankind. The 1988 annuals for X-Factor, Punisher, Silver Surfer, New Mutants, Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Uncanny X-Men, Web of Spider-Man, West Coast Avengers, Spectacular Spider-Man and Avengers each participated in this crossover. Two issues of Spectacular Spider-Man released during this period, #142 and #143, contain appearances by the Purifiers and lead into its annual. The crossover’s epilogue occurs in Thor (1st series) #406-408.

Read Order: 

Although only loosely connected, the main storyline running through the annuals follows a clear, chronological timeline. The supporting story chronicling the High Evolutionary’s origin must also be read in order. However, while the read-order for these two stories are for the most part in synch, for some reason they diverge during Fantastic Four Annual #21 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22. Fantastic Four Annual #21 contains part five of the High Evolutionary’s origin, whereas Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 contains part six. However, in Fantastic Four Annual #21, Uatu the Watcher gives a brief synopsis of the first five stories and describes Spider-Man’s adventures with Speedball in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 as having already occurred. Somehow the two issues were transposed. Either way, the primary stories have a distinct chronological progression, and should be read as follows:

Part 01 – X-Factor Annual #3
Part 02 - Punisher Annual #1
Part 03 - Silver Surfer Annual #1
Part 04 – New Mutants Annual #4
Part 05 - Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22
Part 06 - Fantastic Four Annual #21
Part 07 – Uncanny X-Men Annual #12
Part 08 - Web of Spider-Man Annual #4
Part 09 - West Coast Avengers Annual #3
Part 10 - Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8
Part 11 – Avengers Annual #17

[As mentioned above, the read-order of the backup stories differs only in that Fantastic Four Annual #21 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 must be reversed.]

Spectacular Spider-Man (1st series) #142-143 (both precede Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8)

Thor (1st series) #406-408
West Coast Avengers Annual #4 (USAgent encounters aimless, uninformed Purifier)

Before the War:
In 1928, struggling geneticist and Oxford student Herbert Edgar Wyndham traveled to a genetics conference in Switzerland to secure funding for his genetic accelerator. While there, he met fellow aspiring scientist Jonathan Drew, and the two men attended a lecture by Polish scientist Wladyslav Shinsky, who advocated caution and restraint when conducting genetic experiments. Wyndham approached the lecturer afterward and asked for advice regarding his genetic accelerator. Shinsky dismissed the machine as impossible, adding that, even if such a thing were possible, it should not be used until the genetic code had been completely mapped. The enraged Wyndham went to dinner with Drew, got drunk, and had to excuse himself after falling ill. However, after puking in the alleyway outside, Wyndham was approached by a mysterious man who gave him an accurate blueprint of the human genome. [X-Factor Annual #3]

Wyndham was so captivated by this genetic blueprint that when he returned to school at Oxford, he spent all of his time working on his own independent projects and completely neglected his studies. His professor approached him and noted how strange it was that for all his diligent work habits, Wyndham struggled with school. Wyndham, who considered the university’s curriculum laughably basic, proposed a solution to his professor: if he demonstrated the scope of his experiments to the faculty, he would be allowed to design his own curriculum. His professor agreed. Wyndham presented his professors with his genetic accelerator, but they refused to believe its

capabilities. They were so distrustful, in fact, that they expelled Wyndham for the seeming mockery! With no place else to go, Wyndham returned home and continued his experiments in his basement, eventually accelerating the DNA of an ordinary dog so dramatically, it assumed an almost-human form. His new creation rushed out of the lab and was immediately shot by a frightened neighbor. This debacle compelled Wyndham to find a more secluded location in which to perform his experiments, and after striking a collaborative deal with his friend Jonathan Drew, Wyndham relocated with the Drew family to their inherited plot of land in the Balkans. [Punisher Annual #1]

The relocation proved to be more fruitful than expected. Drew and Wyndham quickly discovered the land rested atop a mother lode of uranium, and decided to extract the ore in order to finance the construction of their ambitious research center. While surprised by their good fortune, they understood why no one else found the uranium first: the locals believed the region to be haunted. The two scientists, however, wrote these fears off as folklore stemming from the uranium-laden mountain’s ambient radiation. Nevertheless, eerie events soon transpired around their Balkan home, and while investigating a strange noise one night, Wyndham was again approached by the mysterious man he first met in Geneva. This time, the man, who refused to reveal either his identity or his motives, presented Wyndham with a labor force capable of making his mining and construction aspirations a reality: the Moloids. [Silver Surfer Annual #1]

Although the Moloids faithfully constructed the Citadel of Silence for their new master, Herbert Wyndham, Jonathan Drew refused to trust them. Meanwhile, Drew’s daughter Jessica fell deathly ill due to radiation poisoning. In a desperate attempt to save her, Jonathan injected her with a radiation-resistant spider serum, after which Wyndham placed her in incubation courtesy of his genetic accelerator. Opposed to this callous treatment of her daughter, Merriam Drew fled into the night, only to be brutally killed by some unknown creature. Jonathan and Wyndham soon discovered her mutilated remains. During the search, Wyndham caught a glimpse of the killer, whom he suspected was a werewolf. However, fearing a deepening of his existing distrust of the Moloids, Wyndham refused to tell Jonathan his wife’s killer may have been inhuman. [New Mutants Annual #4]

Shortly thereafter, Wyndham was attacked in the wilderness by a man-beast, one he knew he didn’t create. Although he survived the attack with just a few scrapes, he returned to the Citadel of Science doubting his once-rigid belief that the superstitious tales about the region were laughable. Wyndham decided to protect himself from future attacks. He constructed a scientifically advanced suit of full-body armor he hoped would protect him. He even succumbed to his newfound superstition and incorporated silver into the suit’s design, as silver was believed to repel werewolves. His timing could not have been better; the citadel was immediately invaded by the werewolf. Wyndham was ready for him this time and, after besting him in combat, thanks to his silver suit, trapped the monster in a containment chamber. Meanwhile, Jonathan Drew decided to return home because of his grief over the Merriam’s death. [Fantastic Four Annual #21]

Despite these setbacks, Wyndham continued his genetic acceleration research. He soon amassed a veritable army of evolved animal creatures, such as the cow-woman Bova, whom he dubbed the New-Men. These, he trained in the ways of civilized, human culture. Meanwhile, he kept the werewolf in containment. He discovered its true identity to be none other than his neighbor, Baron Gregor Russoff, whose family line had been cursed with lycanthropy. He allowed the Baron to stay with him as long as he was allowed to study him. Amidst all this, Wyndham was surprised by the seeming return of his peer, Jonathan Drew. However, Drew claimed to not be Drew at all, but rather the spirit of an ancient sorcerer named Magnus using Drew’s body as a host. He tried to inform Wyndham of the Elder God named Chthon lurking beneath Mount Wundagore. Magnus warned that the evil Chthon would soon be free, but Wyndham’s scientific mind refused to believe the omen. [Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22]

Although Wyndham, now referring to himself as the High Evolutionary, didn’t believe the ensorcelled Drew’s warnings, he allowed him to stick around. He even heeded his advice and trained his New Men in the arts of chivalry and warfare, eventually dubbing them the Knights of Wundagore. Meanwhile, a wandering, pregnant, Gypsy woman named Magda approached the citadel and, after collapsing at the sight of the goat-headed guard, was taken to the fortress’ infirmary. While Wyndham and Magnus visited their new guest, however, the citadel came under attack by the demon Chthon. Magnus abandoned Jonathon’s body and tried to put a stop to the attack while the Wyndham led his New Men into battle. The intangible Magnus soon discovered that it was Baron Gregor Russoff who inadvertently incited the release of Chthon during an attempt to rid himself of his lycanthropy. Magnus possessed Russoff’s body in order to stop the incantation and, although he succeeded, Russoff was killed. Worse, Chthon managed to reach out and touch the mind of one of the twins being born in the infirmary, ensuring his eventual return. [Uncanny X-Men Annual #12]

With Chthon defeated, Magnus departed Wundagore and, after bidding the High Evolutionary farewell, implored him to watch over little Jessica Drew. Meanwhile, Bova informed her master that Magda fled the citadel after giving birth to her twins. Wyndham decided to find foster parents for the babies, even if he had to use deceptive means. He invited the pregnant former-superhero, Madeline Joyce-Frank, to give birth in his facility, all the while planning to anesthetize her during the birth so he could slip in the abandoned twins with her baby and convince her she birthed triplets. Unfortunately, both Madeline and her baby died during the birth. Bova was forced to proceed as planned with a few minor adjustments. She presented the Gypsy babies, named Wanda and Pietro, to Frank under the pretense they were his newborn twins. However, Frank was so distressed by the loss of his wife that he fled the citadel without the newborns. As a last resort, the High Evolutionary and Bova decided to give the babies to a barren, childless Gypsy couple named Django and Maryra Maximoff. [Web of Spider-Man Annual #4]

The High Evolutionary continued to toy with his genetic accelerator. During a routine genetic acceleration on a wolf, however, he was interrupted by Thor and lost track of time, accidentally leaving the wolf unattended. Upon returning, he was suddenly faced with a full-fledged rebellion, led by the evolved wolf now known as Man-Beast. Thor helped him subdue this creation, and forced Man-Beast and his feral army of New-Men into a rocket-ship, which they sent to an uninhabited planet. Through this experience, however, the High Evolutionary realized his experiments were too dangerous for Earth. He decided to leave as well. He brought his loyal New-Men into the Citadel of Science, which doubled as a spaceship, and left Earth to start anew. [Thor (1st series) #134-135]

Miraculously, the High Evolutionary discovered an inhabitable planet much like Earth in a distant star system. He claimed the planet as his own, christened it Wundagore II, created wives for his knights, and ordered them to be fruitful and multiply. It wasn’t long before the once-noble New-Men reverted to savagery, however, forcing the High Evolutionary to call in outside help. [West Coast Avengers Annual #3]

He summoned the Hulk to clean up his mess, but when the Hulk finally arrived, the High Evolutionary was disappointed to discover he had reverted back to his human form. Nevertheless, the High Evolutionary decided to make the best of the situation and forced Bruce Banner into his genetic accelerator, hoping to evolve the human subject a million years beyond the normal human state. The feral New-Men chose this moment to break into the lab, halting the experiment. In the ensuing battle, Banner turned back into the Hulk and defended his new master, but the High Evolutionary fell victim to an attack and nearly died. In a desperate, last-ditch effort, he climbed into the genetic accelerator and evolved himself a million years down the human genetic line. He emerged as an entity composed purely of energy and thought unconstrained by a physical body. His first act as a near-omnipotent being was to undo what he had created with the New-Men; his second, whisking the Hulk back to Earth. His being then began to further discorporate, eventually expanding into a form nearly one with the universe. [Tales to Astonish (1st series) #94-96, West Coast Avengers Annual #3]

The High Evolutionary found this new form daunting. Deciding the universe was too grand a scale for him, he created a new stellar base and devolved back into a human form, albeit one still advanced beyond the rest of mankind by a hundred-thousand years. His vast powers still proved too tempting to neglect. Deciding to continue his studies of Earth and the human race, he decided to recreate them both by forming a new planet out of a single rock from the planet Earth. He positioned this planet directly opposite Earth’s position in the solar system and appropriately named it Counter-Earth. With its foundation firmly in place, he proceeded to guide its life forms through the evolutionary process as quickly and efficiently as possible. Before long, and in a mere fraction of the time it took for the same process to occur on Earth, the High Evolutionary had created his own race of humans. [Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8]

However, all was not well. Man-Beast, the High Evolutionary’s spiteful creation, monitored these developments from a distance, and hoped to subvert them purely out of spite for their creator. He attacked the High Evolutionary and wrested control of his control station. Fortunately, the being known as Him chose that time to manifest himself physically and saved the High Evolutionary from complete ruin. Man-Beast, meanwhile, knew when he was beaten and teleported to Counter-Earth in order to enact his vengeance a bit more directly. The High Evolutionary feared the worst. Knowing his latest creations would soon turn on him because of Man-Beast’s vile influence, he decided to wipe Counter-Earth from existence. Him pleaded for mercy. He had sensed a certain goodness in the new humans and wanted to save them. The High Evolutionary agreed to spare them if Him could rid them of the Man-Beast. Him adopted the name Adam Warlock and, after assuming the form of a human man, descended to the planet to save its inhabitants. [Marvel Premiere #1, Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8]

Although he succeeded in saving the people of Counter-Earth, an infuriated Adam Warlock soon returned and accused the High Evolutionary of reneging on the deal and destroying the planet anyway. The High Evolutionary was confused; as he understood it, all was well on Counter-Earth. Nevertheless, he could not subdue him and Warlock destroyed the High Evolutionary’s body, seemingly killing him. [Warlock (1st series) #1-8, Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8]

After being resurrected by Her, the High Evolutionary discovered Counter-Earth had indeed disappeared. At some point, it attracted the attention of an immensely powerful group of beings known as the Beyonders, who plucked it from its orbit and placed it in stasis in their museum of cosmic anomalies. This move both distressed and awed the High Evolutionary; not only did he feel powerless to defend his own creation, but the sheer power of the Beyonders forced him to realize his insignificance relative the rest of the universe. [Marvel Two-In-One #62-63]

Distraught, he sought the peace of death. Upon trying to rend his body into its component atoms, however, he discovered that his armor was too resilient to let him to die. He sought out his old acquaintance the Hulk and begged for him to smash his armor. The Hulk did his best. He pulverized the geneticist’s armor, leaving him battered and naked, after which the High Evolutionary dissolved himself into a puddle. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #266]

The armor refused to let its master die. After rebuilding itself, it reconstructed its master’s corporeal form. Resigning himself to eternal life, the High Evolutionary concluded mankind’s genetic destiny was not great enough on its own, and as a race, man would never surpass the power of the Beyonders. Therefore, he declared himself the proprietor of mankind’s evolution, and vowed to do whatever it took to advance their standing as a species. [Avengers Annual #17]

Other pertinent events:

  • Gwen Stacy, who died tragically in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #121, mysteriously reappeared in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #144. The Purifiers began chasing this imposter in Spectacular Spider-Man (1st series) #142 -143, which lead into Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8.
  • Quicksilver did many nasty things while under the control of Maximus, such as forcibly trying to mutate his daughter Luna, leaving his wife Crystal, severing his ties with his in-laws, the Inhumans, betraying the Avengers, kidnapping Franklin Richards, declaring himself overlord of the mutants and trying to kill his rival, Kristoff Vernard. Shortly after being freed from the control of Maximus, but before returning to the Inhumans, Quicksilver was stripped of his powers by a Hungarian psychic (in fact Maria Trovoya Pym, former wife of Henry Pym).
  • The Savage Land was destroyed by Terminus in Avengers (1st series) #257.
  • Mockingbird recently left the West Coast Avengers after the dissolution of her marriage with Hawkeye. Her husband had became incensed after learning that his wife had allowed the Phantom Rider to die, despite the fact that he used drugs to make her fall in love with him.
  • Bill Foster, a.k.a. Black Goliath, contracted radiation poisoning after battling Atom-Smasher in Marvel Two-in-One #54-48. A blood transfusion from Spider-Woman in Marvel Two-in-One #85 later cured his condition, but nullified his superpowers, as well as Spider-Woman’s own immunity to radiation.

    Behind the Scenes:
    The High Evolutionary builds an impressive network of scientists and soldiers, whom he names the Purifiers. Additionally, he uses his vast resources to build advanced citadels which serve as bases of operation all over the world. With the proper pieces in place, he initiates his sweeping, multi-faceted plan to cleanse the gene pool and propel the evolution of humanity.


The High Evolutionary deems the genetic dead-ends of the world a detriment to the advancement of humanity. He orders such races sterilized, beginning with the stagnant, genetic offshoots of the Deviants, the Subterraneans. His Purifiers travel to the vast underground caverns that house to these creatures and begin their mass-sterilization, but the Subterraneans prove unexpectedly defiant. One Moloid in particular, a mutant named Val-or with immense psychic powers, emits a powerful telepathic distress signal which alerts both Apocalypse’s horseman Caliban and X-Factor’s Marvel Girl to the eugenics operation. While X-Factor travels underground to help the Subterraneans, Apocalypse confronts the High Evolutionary in his orbiting base of operations and challenges his ideology. He considers the High Evolutionary’s plans for human evolution artificial, as he does the hard work for the subject. The best path, according to Apocalypse, is to simply create harsh environments which allow only the fittest to survive. To demonstrate, Apocalypse transports him to the Subterraneans underground home, where they witness the Moloid Val-or leading his species to victory through unity and strategy. The High Evolutionary realizes that the Subterraneans are not an evolutionary dead-end after all; it simply took a little hardship for their strength to emerge. Apocalypse, it seems, was right. [X-Factor Annual #3]

Despite being proven wrong and admitting to his own impatience, however, the High Evolutionary continues with his genetic cleansing, now focusing on the human gene pool. Believing drugs to be a scourge on humanity, as well as a possible, unpredictable mutagen, the High Evolutionary orders the Purifiers to curb the supply of cocaine coming from Colombia. One such target is the drug lord El Caiman. Incidentally, while in Bogota, they encounter another target on the High Evolutionary’s list: the Punisher, whose mental instability they deem dangerous. Although the Punisher had also hoped to eliminate El Caiman, he forges an alliance with the drug lord instead in order to escape the wrath of the Purifiers. The two unlikely allies prove to be worthy opponents. Together, they kill each of the invading Purifiers, striking yet another, albeit minor, blow to the High Evolutionary’s plot. [Punisher Annual #1]

In addition to removing the setbacks to human evolution, the High Evolutionary also explores more proactive means of advancing humanity. He decides to research the genetic unknowns of the universe, including humanoids like the Silver Surfer, because he has nothing left to learn from simple human genetics. By appealing to the Eternals’ sense of protectiveness over humanity, he convinces them to capture the Silver Surfer so he can map his DNA. Upon confrontation, however, the Silver Surfer has many objections. He disagrees with the High Evolutionary’s insistence on taking what is natural about a species and artificially advancing it. He also objects to his individuality being spread amongst an entire race. He comes to the conclusion that in order to make an educated decision, he needs to spend time with the High Evolutionary and listen to his thoughts firsthand. At that point, he will decide whether or not he wants to support or oppose the plan. The Silver Surfer departs from the Eternals on friendly terms and heads out to find the High Evolutionary. [Silver Surfer Annual #1]

Meanwhile, the High Evolutionary orders his Purifiers to capture and forcibly nullify mutants whose powers pose a threat to the development of humanity. Among their targets are the radioactive mutants Bulk and Glow Worm, and Magma, the former pupil of Charles Xavier. The Purifiers capture Magma right in front of her lover, Empath, who indirectly enlists the aid of both the Hellfire Club and, through eavesdropping, the New Mutants. Magik transports her fellow New Mutants directly into the headquarters of the Purifier base in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They rescue Magma before she loses her powers, while Mirage frees the depowered Bulk and Glow Worm, both of whom are quickly dying from radiation poisoning. Unfortunately, one of the Purifiers throws Mirage under the power-stripping machine and she loses her own mutant abilities as well. The grateful Bulk and Glow Worm realize they can help her, however, and switch the machine’s functionality to its restorative setting. Their final act not only restores Mirage’s abilities her abilities, but accelerates them beyond their previous capabilities. Whereas previously she could create mere illusions, upon emerging from the machine she physically manifest her mirages. Using this new power, the New Mutants quickly defeat the remaining Purifiers, and retreat just as the Hellfire Club arrives. [New Mutants Annual #4]

Meanwhile, the High Evolutionary’s escalating war on drugs reaches the streets of New York City. In addition to eradicating petty drug dealers, the Purifiers initiate a massive sterilization plan for all the residents of the city they deem unworthy of procreation. Kingpin, the drug-lord of New York City, grows alarmed at the threat posed to his drug trafficking by the Purifiers and, after some aggressive interrogation, learns not only the extent of power hierarchy of the Purifiers, but also the location of their base in New York atop the Empire State Building. He wants it destroyed. Incidentally, he learns of Spider-Man’s recent quest to clear his name of murder, and uses it to his advantage. His informants supply Spider-Man and his ally Daredevil with false information that fingers the Purifiers for framing Spider-Man. The heroic duo proceeds to the Purifier headquarters atop the Empire State Building. Upon arriving, they discover the Purifiers have created a weapon set to go off at midnight and, without knowing exactly what it does, fight to stop it. Although they destroy the device’s control terminal, it does nothing to stop the countdown. Unbeknownst to them, they are aided by the new superhero Speedball, who followed a pair of murderous Purifiers to the base and uncovered their plan to “eradicate” the genetic unfit of New York City. Speedball spots an abnormal antenna on top of the building and deduces its sinister purpose: to broadcast the signal designed to implement the eugenics program. He single-handedly takes it out, saving the day. After the Purifiers in New York are defeated, the grateful Kingpin confides in his chief advisor that the recent events both in New York and all around the world worry him, and he fears the world may be changing for the worse. [Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22]

The High Evolutionary, still seeking a method of jump-starting humanity’s genetic standing, learns of the existence of the mutagenic Terrigen Mist. He decides he must have it, and brings his Purifiers to the home of the Inhumans on Earth’s moon to take the Mist by force, even garnering Uatu the Watcher’s attention. The Purifiers nearly succeed in conquering the Inhumans. However, salvation arrives in an unlikely form: the recently reformed, and currently depowered, Quicksilver. His noble, selfless leadership holds the Purifiers at bay long enough for the rest of the Inhumans to gather help from Crystal and the Fantastic Four. The High Evolutionary and his troops withdraw in defeat. [Fantastic Four Annual #21]

Perhaps perturbed by his string of defeats, the High Evolutionary takes a much more benevolent effort for the next portion of his plan. He travels to the scorched Savage Land and devises a means of restoring it. As he walks its barren earth, however, he is attacked by the monstrous robot Terminus. Fortunately for the High Evolutionary, the X-Men, having followed a distraught Storm to the Savage Land, intervene and rescue him before burying Terminus under an avalanche. The High Evolutionary explains to the X-Men the recent tragedy that befell the Savage Land, but adds he has a plan to restore it and, upon Storm’s approval, invites Havok to visit his nearby lab. While at the citadel, the High Evolutionary shows Havok his machine capable of restoring the Savage Land, but explains he needs an entity with a primal connection to the land to serve as its catalyst.

Meanwhile, Terminus emerges from the rubble and attacks the X-Men. They fight back and, with the help of C’Jime and the surviving Savage Land residents, eventually defeat it. However, they discover the machine is but a cheap imitation of the true Terminus, and reveal its operator to be none other than an entranced Garokk! After awaking from his trance, Garokk sees what has happened to the Savage Land and is distraught. For answers, he turns to the High Evolutionary, who explains he can restore the Savage Land with Garokk’s help. As it turns out, because of his primal connection to the Savage Land, Garokk possesses the very same qualities the High Evolutionary needs to restore it to its former glory. He volunteers to act as the catalyst in the procedure, which disperses his spirit throughout the Savage Land, restoring it to its former, vibrant state. [Uncanny X-Men Annual #12]

In Florida, the High Evolutionary initiates a three-tiered plan to cleanse the gene pool and eliminate unpredictable variables that might derail his plans. His targets include local drug dealers, a spatial distortion in the Florida Everglades known as the Nexus of All Realities that often acts as a gateway for so-called genetic pollutants, and any entities that have entered that particular plane of reality through this nexus. One such entity currently possesses a motel maid in Miami named Cecelia. The Purifiers hunt her down just as the entity awakens inside and takes control of her body. This awakening saves Cecelia’s life, as it allows her to defeat the Purifiers. The entity then compels her to travel back to the nexus so it can return home. Meanwhile, another squad of Purifiers, bearing a mysterious machine, travels through the Everglades in search of the nexus. Once they find it, the High Evolutionary activates the mystery device via remote, and it emits a piercing, sonic screech that tears the sky asunder. Although several of the Purifiers die in the process, the High Evolutionary considers it a sacrifice necessary for the betterment of mankind. Elsewhere, a group of drug-traffickers arrives at their secret cocaine cache in the Everglades only to encounter Spider-Man, who happens to be in the area for journalistic pursuits. The drug-traffickers fail to realize a group of Purifiers tracked them through the swamp, however, and find themselves engaged in a brutal gunfight. Spider-Man recognizes the Purifiers from their earlier encounter in New York City and refrains from fighting. At this same time, Cecelia arrives and the entity exits her body and enters the nexus. Also at this same time, Man-Thing arrives and begins killing the intruders in his swamp, but Spider-Man subdues the survivors to spare them from Man-Thing’s wrath. In the end, although the Purifiers succeed in eliminating some petty drug-pushers, they fail in both of their high-priority missions: ridding the area of extra-dimensional entities, and closing the Nexus of All Realities. [Web of Spider-Man Annual #4]

Back at his Savage Land citadel, the High Evolutionary oversees the progress of the genetic bomb, the most ambitious of his grand designs. This bomb, when detonated, will accelerate the evolution of every human on the planet. However, its completion requires vibranium, so he dispatches a group of his Purifiers to raid the vibranium deposits of Wakanda. Unbeknownst to the High Evolutionary, in his employment is former Avenger Bill Foster, previously known as Black Goliath. Foster now decides to act as a mole and slips a note into one of the Wakanda-bound Purifier’s uniforms, urging the Black Panther to contact Henry Pym of the Avengers for help.

The Purifiers arrive in Wakanda but are swiftly defeated by the Black Panther and his warriors. He discovers the note and summons Hawkeye, Vision, Wonder-Man, Mantis and the Scarlet Witch of the West Coast Avengers. Shortly after they arrive, however, Black Panther receives a distress call from the technicians at the vibranium mine. The Avengers head there as fast as they can and, upon arriving, are faced with a team of the High Evolutionary’s specially modified warriors known as the Sensors. Although initially overpowered, the Avengers rally and eventually defeat Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch and Intuition. However, they fail to stop one of the Purifiers from grabbing a generous supply of vibranium ore and teleporting it back to the Savage Land.

Meanwhile, Mockingbird, Moon Rider and Tigra, currently acting as a rogue offshoot of the West Coast Avengers, arrive in the Savage Land and are surprised to find it restored to its vibrant state. They travel to the High Evolutionary’s citadel to learn why he saved the land. After telling them why, he reveals his plan to detonate the mutation-inducing gene bomb. The Avengers predictably object, forcing the High Evolutionary to put them in prison. Although each of them break free of their cells, only Mockingbird actually manages to make it back to the High Evolutionary’s chamber but, being a mere baseline human, she is quickly defeated. Nevertheless, the arrival of these Avengers is enough to convince Bill Foster the Avengers received his plea. He decides to take the plunge and drinks a serum which reintroduces his size-altering ability back into his body. With his powers restored, he takes on the High Evolutionary and single-handedly defeats him. At this moment, the High Evolutionary receives word the vibranium-recovery mission to Wakanda succeeded, and retreats in order to complete his gene bomb at a different, less-infiltrated location. [West Coast Avengers Annual #3]

The High Evolutionary arrives to his submarine facility and oversees completion of his gene bomb. Meanwhile, his Purifiers, having chased an apparent clone of Gwen Stacy all the way from Michigan to New York City, close in for her capture. [Spectacular Spider-Man (1st series) #142-143] Fortunately, Spider-Man happens to be in the neighborhood and intervenes. The Purifiers immediately recognize him; he has already derailed two of the High Evolutionary’s schemes. They retreat, leaving him to face his former lover whom he believed to be dead and return to the High Evolutionary to once again admit to failure. Disappointed, the High Evolutionary stresses the importance of capturing the woman. Because she is supposedly a clone, she represents a genetic anomaly, as humanity has not yet achieved such technology. After reiterating his orders, he embarks on a quest of his own.

The High Evolutionary travels to the home of the Celestials to learn more about the Young Gods, a group of humans supposedly evolved to a god-like state, but is disappointed to find they are actually a bunch of over-powered, tempestuous youths. As he departs, however, the Young God Daydreamer predicts a horrible future for all of humanity should the High Evolutionary succeed with his plans. Some of the Young Gods decide to return to Earth to stop him; other don’t. After an argument, the rebellious faction splits away and heads to Earth, despite the orders of non-intervention from their superiors.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the Purifiers finally succeed in capturing the Gwen Stacy clone, much to Spider-Man’s conflicted dismay. He follows them back to the High Evolutionary’s submarine fortress. After the inevitable battle, and with the help of the two warring factions of Young Gods, Spider-Man overcomes the Purifiers and rescues Gwen from her stasis chamber. Shortly after Spider-Man informs Gwen he has married another woman, the High Evolutionary approaches them both and orders them to leave. Spider-Man first wants to know why he captured Gwen. The High Evolutionary informs him the woman is not truly Gwen. Initially, he wanted her because he believed her to be a clone. However, after much scrutiny, he learned she was not a true clone, but a woman of similar age and genotype to Gwen who was injected with a virus that rewrote her cellular physiology so as to match that of the real Gwen Stacy. Humanity, it seems, is not as advanced as he believed. [Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8]

Finally having gathered the necessary materials, the High Evolutionary nears the completion of the genetic bomb, the grand design underlying all of his machinations. In the meantime, he hopes to gather information on the meddlesome Avengers so as to prevent further interference from their end. To do so, the Purifiers reassemble the robotic, former Avenger-ally Jocasta, whose computer brain contains a veritable Avengers database. However, this proves counter-productive, as she manages to escape from her creators and make an emergency phone call to her old teammates’ headquarters. Because the Avengers are currently disbanded, however, the mansion’s computer assembles a reserve team to answer the distress signal, consisting of Captain, Hercules, Falcon, Beast, Hulk, and the eavesdropping villain Yellowjacket.

These interim Avengers locate the distress call, free Jocasta and learn of the High Evolutionary’s sinister plan to detonate a genetic bomb in the process. They follow a clue to the depths of the Pacific Ocean, where they find and board the High Evolutionary’s massive underwater ship. They discover he intends to detonate his genetic bomb beneath Krakatoa, one of the planet’s largest volcanoes, and vow to stop the ship before it reaches its destination. The High Evolutionary quickly catches onto their meddling and fights these intruders to a stand-still. Desperate, they use the ship’s Genesis Chamber to boost Hercules’s power beyond those of a god. Hercules emerges from this genetic accelerator and, with his new abilities, reduces the High Evolutionary’s physical body to a pile of ashes. However, with his final act, the geneticist overloads Hercules’s powers, which grow so powerful he completely discorporates and ceases to exist on their plane of reality. Jocasta, meanwhile, hacks into the ship and, after ordering the Avengers to escape, prematurely detonates the genetic bomb, thus sparing the world from catastrophe. The interim Avengers return home, finally having put a stop to the High Evolutionary’s well-intentioned, although completely misguided, war on humanity. [Avengers Annual #17]

Repercussions / lasting effects: 
  • Because of the tampering of the Purifiers, Danielle Moonstar now has the power to physically manifest her mirages instead of them being intangible. However, she can only maintain one mirage at a time.
  • After overhearing his conversation with the Hellfire Club regarding Magma, the New Mutants further distrust their headmaster Magneto. They defy his orders once more after this issue, a decision that sends them on a whirlwind of dangerous adventures and, at their next encounter, they formally renounce their attendance at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters.
  • The Savage Land is restored to its former glory, but Garokk, once a recurring foe of the X-Men, ceases to exist as an individual entity.
  • Quicksilver redeems himself in the eyes of the Inhumans and renews his marriage with Crystal. Crystal, meanwhile, leaves the Fantastic Four and returns to her family in Attilan.
  • Bill Foster finally regains his Giant-Man powers.
  • The mystery of the Gwen Stacy clone is clarified, with the revelation that she was a woman named Joyce Delany, who was transformed into a genetic duplicate by a virus designed by Miles Warren. This transformation was undone by the super-human named Dreamweaver, whose power restored her to her original form. However, this wrap up was in turn undone some years later by yet another retcon in Scarlet Spider Unlimited #1. In this story, the High Evolutionary admits to the Scarlet Spider, a clone of Spider-Man also going by the name of Ben Reilly, that he had fabricated the transformation virus entry in Miles Warren’s diary in order to discredit Warren.
  • The High Evolutionary and Hercules, both evolved beyond having physical bodies, somehow reappear in the Black Galaxy and have to be rescued by Thor and his companions in Thor (1st series) #406-407. The High Evolutionary returns to space with his New-Men in Thor (1st series) #408 and sets aside his plans for humanity’s advancement.
Last Updated: 
25th June 2008